The JCA just spent a very compelling weekend learning from visiting scholar Rabbi Arthur Green. Rabbi Green offered interpretations of Torah and prayer during our services, teaching about the hymn Licha Dodi as a song of flirtation with the extra helping of soul that we hope will emerge within us on Shabbat, and also interpreting Parashat Vayigash as a call to bring mekhiye (vibrancy, new life) to the shever (brokenness) of the declining civilization in which we find ourselves. At the dinner table, he offered us the ten principles for a revived practice of Shabbat, and in a lecture following Saturday lunch he managed to keep our attention (even through this prime nap time) by explaining how neo-Hasidism can serve as the basis for a radical contemporary Judaism. He also led us in text study: Hasidic parshanut on Vayigash (sorry if that phrase is inscrutable) that he and his students are in the process of translating and commentating upon for publication.
For me personally, the highlight was the chance to interview Rabbi Green in public on Sunday morning, delving into the substance of his powerful and controversial new work: “Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition”. The program was taped, and we hope to make it available in some form soon.
In the meantime, I just wanted to offer links here to some of the material I mentioned during the conversation.
Here’s a rather sharply worded critique of the book from Rabbi Daniel Landes, of the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem:
And here’s Rabbi Green’s sharply worded reply:
Finally, here’s a piece from Shaul Magid, in Zeek, summarizing the nature of critical responses to Rabbi Green’s book: